Most footwear is made up of two general components - the upper that wraps around your foot and the bottom that goes underneath the foot. The upper is typically made out of flat materials like leather, mesh, and textiles that are cut and stitched together. The bottom is typically made out of foams, gels, plastics, and rubber that are made in molds. Thus, the bottom components require a 3D physical shape to create the molds from.
In the not too distant past, the 3D shapes of the bottoms of shoes were made by hand by skilled craftsmen. They would take wood or clay or other solid materials and basically carve, sand, and file the materials into the finished shape. Obviously, this was slow and at times, inaccurate.
Now, the shapes of footwear bottoms and any other molded components on the shoe are created using 3D CAD modeling software. This software allows the skilled user to build the 3D shapes digitally and evaluate, analyze, and modify it until it’s correct - all without making a physical part. Once the bottom component is approved digitally, the 3D data is typically sent to a rapid prototype machine that creates a physical part. This part is then evaluated, and if needed, is modified back in the computer. If the physical part is approved, then the 3D data can be sent to the manufacturing facility so that molds can be created.
The biggest advantage of using 3D CAD modeling for product creation is that it’s fast and accurate, which helps create molds and parts that are right the first time. The advantage of doing this work with the POC team is that we not only know how to build 3D computer models, but we provide expertise and feedback along the way - which can help address construction issues, functional issues, and even pricing issues as the part is being built.